Flat World - Ali`s ICT educational resource site

The Open-Source Cloud
Computing Paradigm
for Small and Mediumsized Enterprise
A demonstration of the OpenCart e-commerce solution
Dr Ali Robertson
[email protected]
The world is flat…
And it just become flatter…
• Smaller organisations typically struggle to engage with IT
• Many reasons, as will be discussed.
• Just because you are a good entrepreneur, doesn’t mean you can
embrace high-end computing – right?
• This presentation introduces the idea that technologies that
have become the mainstay of larger corporations are now
available to smaller enterprises.
• And they are free, well, almost…
Why is our understanding of the small
business technology market important?
• DTI (2005): Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) account for 60% of GDP
and 58% of employment.
• 4.3 million businesses the UK exist, large and small.
• 99% of these are SMEs!
• Implies that if SMEs apply ICT more effectively, it would have a
significant and positive impact on the economy.
The make-up of a typical SME
Experienced in their role
Good business acumen
Typical age – 40 to 50
• Outcome of a UK NW region survey (2006/7):
• See https://alirobertson.net/research-fora/
• Director/owners of enterprise have a LOW psychological propensity
to adopt technologies generally
• Approximately 50% self-categorize as:
Not enjoying using technology
Not finding technology easy to use
Many of the low propensity IT adopters look at technology as useful!
Comparing people who run
businesses large and small…
• Group question: What is the difference between a large
business entrepreneur and a small business entrepreneur if
they BOTH dislike technology?
• Larger businesses have financial resources smaller organisations do
not have.
• The large business entrepreneur can afford experienced IT staff who
can make electronic ‘stuff’ happen as needed.
• And this is why smaller enterprises tend to significantly lag larger
enterprises in terms of innovation adoption.
• IT consultants are very expensive, often unable to work out
requirements/needs of businesses successfully.
Open-source software paradigm
• Open-source (OS) software promotes the creation of software tools that are free to
download and use.
• Community driven development.
• No ownership of code that creates the software.
• Moodle is an example of OS technology.
• About 85% of HEIs in UK use Moodle in some form.
• Alirobertson.net is built using the WordPress OS framework.
• OS has now moved into the business domain in many forms.
• E-commerce, CRM, Project Management etc.
• Very recently (within 3 years), OS community has driven the creation of e-commerce
‘models’ which enable fast creation of complex e-commerce sites.
• Relatively Simple to use.
• Cheap to run.
• Automates many of the business processes that were once paper driven.
• e.g. payment systems, customer intelligence systems, order/stock management, customer
interaction (e.g. reviews, automated email systems).
Let’s look at what this world
looks like ‘live’
• For this demonstration I will use a website hosting company called
• Provides various website creation/hosting services for about £200
per year.
• Includes a multitude of free-to-use and install OS packages.
• I will now show you that it takes about 15 minutes to choose, install
and test a new e-commerce website.
• Assumes that the business already has a web presence.
• Relatively easy to do?
• Shows that the past complexity of developing an e-commerce
solution has disappeared, well almost!
So, what could possibly go
• On the face it, the process to set up a site has been greatly
• Some issues entrepreneurs must address:
• Version upgrades must be handled with caution.
• Recent move from OpenCart 1.5 to 2.0 highlights the problem
• The entrepreneur must learn to take care of the newly found data.
• Regular ‘safe’ backups – not a pen drive!
• Customer data must be protected.
• Open-source communities move and change.
• Need some assurance that the e-commerce site can ‘move’ into another
e-commerce framework.

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